Difference Between Capacitor and Condenser

Capacitor vs Condenser

Capacitor and condenser are two words used in engineering. When considering the electrical circuit elements, both capacitor and condenser are used to describe the same device. However in general, condenser has some other meanings.


Capacitor is made of two conductors separated by an insulating dielectric. When a potential difference is provided to these two conductors, an electric field is created and electric charges are stored. Once the potential difference is removed and the two conductors are connected, a current (stored charges) flows to neutralize that potential difference and electric field. The rate of discharge gets reduced with time and this is known as the capacitor discharging curve.

In analysis, capacitor is considered as an insulator for DC (direct current), and conducting element for AC (alternating currents). Therefore it is used as a DC blocking element in many circuit designs. Capacitance of a capacitor is known as the capability to store electric charges and it is measured in the unit called Farad (F). However in practical circuits, capacitors are available in the ranges of micro Farads (µF) to pico Farads (pF).


Condenser refers to different objects in different engineering fields. When electronic circuits are considered, condenser means a capacitor. In thermodynamics, condenser is a device which condenses (converts into liquid) gaseous materials by cooling. In optics, condenser is a device that helps concentrate light. Among these different uses of the word, thermodynamic term is the most common.

All condensers have a cooling system to remove heat from gaseous material and make them liquid. It should remove an amount of thermal energy equivalent to ‘latent heat’ of the gas. Condensers are used in thermal power plants, distilleries and air conditioners.

What is the difference between capacitor and condenser?

1. Although the word ‘condenser’ is used to call capacitors in electronics circuits, there are different uses of the word in other disciplines.

2. Condenser is usually referred to as a device which converts gases into liquids.

3. A different device called condenser is also available in optical systems.